Jack Grantham, aka Paw Paw, PPO, CEO, and many other nicknames was beloved to many. He was an incredible husband, father, brother, Paw Paw, and friend to many of all ages from 4 months to 94 years old. With two legs or four legs – nobody and no pet was a stranger to him.
Jack was born April 3, 1939 in Washington, DC to Percy Franklin and Catherine Marie Grantham. He was big brother to Mary, Bill, and Betty. Up until his final days, Jack enjoyed laughter-filled relationships with his siblings, all of whom lived within an hour of each other.
Jack was drafted and off to Army boot camp within the first three months of his marriage in August 1961 to Portia, the love of his life and his best friend. The 1960s were also busy with the expansion of their family to include Craig, born in 1963 and Cathy, born in 1965.
He and Craig had a special shared interest in the sophisticated world of WWE, (bad) Chuck Norris facts, illogical sportscasters’ statements, Western movies, and their gag-gift exchange of cans of potted meat and Vienna sausages, much to the chagrin of the other family members.
Cathy and Jack often seemed to have a telepathic connection, being able to finish each other’s sentences, understanding inside jokes that made no sense to others, and both loving and using mathematical references and equations in situations in which it was completely unnecessary and annoying to others. Before “STEM” was even part of the US education vernacular, Jack encouraged and supported Cathy’s interest and natural abilities in Mathematics, and more recently, in her near insistence that he and Portia use something other than a failing PC and an AOL email address.
From spending Saturday afternoons watching horror movies to playing basketball or cheering them on at their swim team meets, he was very engaged with his children’s lives and encouraged them to reach for the stars. He also encouraged and supported Portia while she went to college to become an RN. He took on many household responsibilities to allow more space for Portia to attend classes and study. A better spouse-champion would be hard to find.
Jack retired from his long career with the United States Postal Services in 1992 at the ripe young age of 53, just in time to begin his most important job: grandfather of three. Ally, his first grandchild, was born in 1992, and she gave him a great orientation into grandfathering. He served as Ally’s private chauffer for her afternoon travel needs in her early school years. They both came to love these trips and the adventures they created. He introduced her to the Oldies on the radio, singing Brown Eyed Girl to her, adamantly and repeatedly telling her that the song was written with her in mind. Of course, his serenading occurred only after they had managed to gain control of Benny Budha and Bwanda, their imaginary dogs in the back of Jack’s SUV.
Paw Paw’s imagination, infectious laughter, and ability to cheer up even the grumpiest, made him a joy to be around. There was nothing too embarrassing for him to do to get a laugh out of his family, and that seemed to be ramped up during frequent weeklong beach vacations. He once cleared a swimming pool by demonstrating his ability to “shape the world” when he used his uplifted arms and imaginary skills to impress the grandchildren and scare away others. In reality, he was shaping the world of all of those around him.
He knew when he was to take the lead and be in charge, and he knew when to let others handle their business and then sit back and reap the benefits of those who had learned from his example.
Ben came along as grandchild #2 in 1994, followed by Justin in 1997. While he held a captive audience with the grandchildren when all together, he had a special and unique relationship with each one of them, including their own experiences, nicknames, and special memories.
Playing with “Dr. Ben” as a little boy and through his adult years allowed Paw Paw to show his inner, playful child, whom we all loved to witness in action! Whether it was the games he played with Ben or the games he played as a sideline-Grandfather cheering him on, Paw Paw loved watching Ben (and his siblings) in all of his various sporting events. And, then, there were the unexpected commitments of participation such as him emerging himself into the outdoor baby pool where he remained alone for quite some time after the children left (much to the neighbors’ concern and confusion).
Ben admired and inherited from Paw Paw strength in taking care of one’s self to the best of his ability while also being a strong support system for others. Ben credits Paw Paw with his interest and ability to be a skilled handyman called upon frequently by family members and friends.
With the experiences of two grandchildren under his belt, he was confident that he was finally going to be the one with the power in this third grandparent/grandchild relationship when Justin came along in 1997. No such luck; Justin wasn’t having it. He had Paw Paw wrapped around his finger just as quickly, if not more so, than his siblings. One might naturally assume that there was a limit on the consumption and application of knuckle sandwiches, but in a little over 21 years, Justin and Dad never reached that limit.
Jack’s love of Christmas holiday decorating was well known, and his “Village” grew rapidly over the years, to the point that it almost took over the living room. Christmastime was extra special for Jack and Justin because Justin was there in the early years helping Jack with perhaps the Inaugural Village and with the secret gift labeling system for which only he and Jack had the secret answers to identify recipients.
Not only did Paw Paw demonstrate amazing traits and love most can only wish for in a grandparent, he did the same as a husband, father, and friend.
Mom and Dad were married for 56 years as of August 12, 2017. They set the standard for their children, grandchildren, and others paying attention to the love and respect that they showed each other in their daily interactions and in formal settings. The laughter, oh the laughter! It was infectious and beyond heartwarming to see them in action. They were the epitome of love and commitment. The Maw Maw and Paw Paw couple was the perfectly matched dynamic duo! (Thanks, Bruce McReynolds for introducing them!)
Mom and Dad demonstrated their strong belief in marriage not only through their love, but also through their support of Craig and Margaret’s married life and family that they began in 1987. With all of his immediate family living within 20 minutes of him, he was able to be there to assist and support in so many ways. He was the father-in-law that everyone should be so lucky to have!
In his spare time, he enjoyed both the serious and the whimsical. A member of the First Baptist Church of Laurel for 52 years, he made countless friends over the years and had so many wonderful visits, outings, and meals with lifelong friends.
He “applied” for multiple employment positions over the years, and shared all of his applications with the grandchildren, seeking their advice as to whether he had completed them correctly. Ultimately, he heeded their advice and didn’t submit his applications for employment at Edy’s, McDonald’s, and other places of employment. However, those random (and fake) applications have been popping up over the years in the most unexpected places just to give his family a good laugh.
Portia was never safe from these and other types of random jokes he pulled. She got them just as much, if not more, than the rest of the family.
One of the most beautiful sounds in the world for us was the sound of Mom and Dad’s uncontrollable laughter when they were simply being Maw Maw and Paw Paw.
Paw Paw, we promise to do everything in our power to keep Mom’s laughter going and to take care of her.
We love you and will miss you until the day that we see you again.